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Arizona anti-gays don't realize why they lost

by Jeremy Hooper

The Center For Arizona Policy, the "ex-gay"-promoting organization most fully behind the recently-vetoed license-to-discriminate bill, wrote the following postmortem:

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 At 9.16.23 Am One of the immediate benefits from this experience is that our friends across the country are waking up to the very real threats to religious freedom and what’s happening in Arizona. There have been some interesting posts across the web throughout this situation that clearly show the country is waking up to religious hostility.

Before I share some of these articles, I want to especially thank our allies across the country for standing with us, especially our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom, Family Research Council, CitizenLink, and American Family Association.

And then the CAP writer went on to link to articles from the above-named echo chamber. What they don't realize is that these groups—these deceptive, animus-driven, proudly and often rabidly anti-gay groups—are the very reason why they lost and are losing everything!

In a cleaner world with a more rational and reasonable political culture, we could probably have an adult conversation about this public accommodations and the hows and whys of nondiscrimination. If it truly seemed like the other side was acting in good faith, then folks on the side of marriage equality would be a little more open to dialogue. But that's not the lay of the land here. Those of us who fought and fought hard against this Arizona proposal rose up loudly and quickly because we realized exactly what it was: a stealth attempt by viciously anti-gay groups (like the ones that CAP name checks here) to undermine LGBT people's basic rights and welfare. Those of us who know the charade didn't need any more background information because we've been hearing this growing drum beat for years. All we had to do was help the broader public understand it as well.

And help the American public understand, we sure did. CAP is right to suggest that the country is "waking up," but they are astoundingly wrong if they think the country is "waking up" to their carefully masked attempts to cultivate more animus. To remind you: A very conservative governor vetoed the AZ bill, both Republican U.S. Senators from the state spoke out against it, several state lawmakers who had supported the bill came out and admitted that they had been duped, and mainstream GOP figures like the party's most recent presidential candidate lent their name to the bill's defeat. That's nothing to say of the independents and left-leaners, who were already somewhat familiar with what was going on and pretty much opposed this (and similar) legislation in one voice. The push back was loud, intense, and daily. Every time one of the anti-gay figures would go on TV and recite the talking points that they were all so robotically speaking, the other guests or the anchors themselves would not only obliterate their spin but would do so in a way that rally drove home the dubious and devious game that was driving the whole thing. The pro-equality, pro-peace, pro-fairness side NAILED it. Every chance to have the conversation was a boon to our side and a massive drain to their pro-discriminatory cause!

And again, the reason why it was so damn easy to obliterate their arguments is because they keep trusting these truly awful organizations like FRC and AFA. If they want to win even one more major contest, then those conservatives who might truly be seeking nuanced conversation, good faith game moves, and honest debate within our two-party system shouldn't be thanking organizations whose senior staffers praise laws that jail gay people, whose lawyers claim that societies that support homosexuality never survive, or whose fellows call for the "exporting" and criminalization of us. If they are so hellbent on denying people service for certain characteristics, then the conservatives should deny these vitriolic groups the service they claim to do their movement. It's costing them plenty.

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